Photo by ariq sulaiman on Unsplash
Many of us have been creating in isolation since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year. Some people have been producting all kinds of music, art or writing while others have been feeling stuck because of the uncertanity of the times.
As the pandemic ebbs and flows, there's no doubt about it, at least for the forseeable future, COVID-19 and it's variants will continiue to plague many of our lives for awhile. How can we get past the often scary and unpredictable virus mentally, physically and emotionally and get on with our creative lives if it has us stuck.
Here's a few ideas to help you adapt and move forward with your creativity during these times::
Mentally and Emotionally
The biggest hurdle is to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the possiblity of future quarantines or at least working in isolation for awhile.
-Ground yourself: Whether it's Prayer, meditation, or other Mindfulness practices., practice a daily ritual to help you keep anxiety at bay. Find a way to get still and focus on yoiur well-being.
-Be gentle with yourself. This new reality many of us are living is challenging. Don't get hard on yourself if you don't feel like creating right now. Allow yourself time to relax, rest and reflect, if need be. Disenage from the "grind" culture of producing, no matter what your peers are doing. Work at a pace, if anything, that works for you. If a few months or weeks are unproductive, give yourself compassion, not pity or anger. We are all working through this the best way we can.
Move your body at least once a day whether it's walking, dancing, exercise, yoga, etc. Do what makes you feel good without over doing it. Movement releases tension, anxietiy and stress that can weigh on the body and create blockages to our creativity.
Spend time outside in nature, whether it's a daily walk, hiking or another activity such as grabbing lunch outdoors, doing nature sketching, or meditating. Consider bring the outdoors inside such as plants and flowers to decorate your space. Nature can provide a feeling of calmness and help bring equanimitiy to your daily life.
Physical Space: Go through all of your studio materials and sell or dispose of stuff. you don't need. Create a storage system for your supplies that makes it easier to retrieve and put a way when finished with your creative practice. Your creative space will feel lighter and more inspiring to create as well as bring a positive energy to the place.
Mental Space: What's holding you back from your creative practice mentally? How can you clear out the negative messages so you can hold yourself accountable? Work with some affirmations about your creative goals and intentions and keep them handy. Review your schedule and see what things are a priority and what may need to go. Practice some of the grounding activities above to help gain insight. Schedule time with a therapist, a coach or someone you can talk to about anything in your life that you have difficulty letting go of for a more peaceful, creative life. Make to-do lists for creative activities daily or weekly so it can be added as a priority.
Reach Out and Touch Someone: Virtually
If connecting to other artists, writers or creatives is not safe or possible, work on establishing relationships online. Sign up for creative co-working sessions with others, participate in online writing/poetry open mics and other art critiques/sharing opportunities. If you are on social media, establish some relationships with other creatives online that you admire or have shown interest in iyour work. Collaborate with other creatives on projects or get involve with an art swap. Join or start a virtual book club for creatives. The sense of community can be built beyond four walls and can invite rich social experiences as well.
Professional Development for Creatives
Are there workshops, trainings, etc., that you always wanted to attend? Do you have a passion for writing poetry and would like guidance? How about a new art making technique? What about an creativity building or Artist's Way Group to help with some inspiration? If you can afford it, this is a time to discover oir add to your creative skills without a lot of distractions and meet others doing the same thing as well. If finances are a little slim, try listening to podcasts for creatives, checking out YouTube videos on art techniques as alternatives to formal online courses and trainings.
Experiment with Social Media
Social media can be an asset or a liability during these times. If you want to reach more people with your work, try a social media platform that you are not familiiar with or haven't tried. Find ways to bring attention to you work using videos, photos, live broadcasts and other methods. Or it may be a time to review what you are using as platforms and focus on what's working best and delete those that are not working well
Remember this season of our lives is difficult for everyone. As we learn more about COVID-19 and how it will affect us, know that being gentle with your creative cycle and staying healthy is the most important thing. Use your intuition as you move forward and connect with others for help and support as much as possible.
Feel free to share other ideas on how you have been moving through the pandemic creatively below.
Would you believe that being idle could make you more interesting? A recent study suggests that mental clutter stifles creativity while unburdening your mind encourages originality.
Researchers at an Israeli university looked at what happens when your mind is occupied with stray thoughts and nagging concerns. Subjects who were tasked with remembering 7 digits responded slowly, and gave boring conventional answers on a free association test. On the other hand, subjects assigned only 2 digits were quick to come up with innovative replies.
Learn how to liberate yourself from mental overload. Explore these tips for meditation and other intuitive experiences.
Reducing Mental Load Through Meditation
1. Face yourself. Some unconscious thoughts can be disturbing. Remember that bringing them to the surface is the first step in healing. Once you spot your baggage, you can develop more constructive habits.
2. Scan your body. Your body is an excellent guide to how to find your flow. Notice what conditions help you to lower your shoulders and unclench your jaw.
3. Focus on your breath. Simple breath work helps beginners and advanced practitioners to become more mindful. Notice the air as it enters your nostrils and travels through your body. Spend as much time exhaling as inhaling.
4. Develop clarity. Picture your mind as a pool of water. As the ripples settle, you can see under the surface. What’s going on when you put aside housework and utility bills? Connect with your aspirations and dreams.
5. Count your blessings. Engage with the present moment by noticing what you’re grateful for. Celebrate the taste of morning coffee and the sound of your children laughing.
6. Practice daily. Work your way up gradually and consistently. Even a few minutes of stillness can be beneficial.
Reducing Mental Load Through Other Activities
1. Write things down. Put your to do list onto paper so you can forget about it without worrying that you’ll miss your next dental appointment. Electronic versions are also fine if that’s more convenient.
2. Play games. Do you lose track of time when you’re planning your next move in Words with Friends? Taking a break from work can help you to return more refreshed.
3. Move around. Clear your mind with an afternoon run or visit to the gym. Physical exercise also burns calories and releases stress. 4. Use your hands. Repetitive movements can trigger breakthrough ideas as you tap into your unconscious. Knit a scarf or play piano. Chop vegetables for dinner or paint an accent wall in your bedroom.
5. Slow down. If running too many programs at a time makes your computer less 2 effective, think what excess multitasking does to your brain. Try to immerse yourself in a single task while you remember your purpose.
6. Appreciate nature. Nature is a powerful antidote to cognitive overload. Spend a moment enjoying bird songs and cool breezes.
7. Take a nap. If you can fall asleep easily during the day without disrupting the quality of your nightly slumbers, napping could be for you. Studies show that a brief sleep enhances memory formation. According to some research, people who nap also tend to live longer.
8. Turn off your phone. Some distractions are beyond your control, but you can opt out of being available around the clock for non-emergencies. Disconnect your devices for an hour each day. Give yourself quiet time to stimulate your creativity and think on a deeper level.
If pushing yourself to succeed is tiring you out, try thinking less. Allow your mind to become clear so your creativity and productivity can soar.
There are times when we all want to be more creative. We wish that there were something
we could do to express ourselves and create something beautiful at the same time.
If you're looking for ways to discover your creative side and release the artist within, here
are a few simple activities that you can do to get the creative energy flowing.
What type of personality do you have? Are you able to express that personality freely at
work or with friends? If not, tackle one of these projects and let your personality shine!
• Decorate your house, or at least one room, the way you like it. It doesn't
matter what anyone else tells you, just decorate your room, your way. This will help
you unleash your own self-expression.
• Dress the way you want. If tackling the house is too big of a job, then take a look at
your wardrobe. Dress how you want to dress. Trust yourself and trust your instincts.
You are dressing for you, not the world. Don't worry; you can express yourself while
still being professional at work.
You have to find ways in everything you do to allow creativity to flow through you. This can
be as simple as the way you sign a letter, mail an envelope, the way you dress or the house
that you live in.
Change Your Routine
If you're stuck in a rut, do things that take you out of your normal routine. It doesn't really
matter how stimulating your work or home life is, when you take a moment to step out of
your normal routine for some me time, you'll be open to new ideas and new thoughts.
How can you step out of your normal routine?
1. Read a book that you wouldn't usually pick up
2. Watch a movie that you wouldn't typically choose
3. Talk to a total stranger that you think looks interesting
4. Go shopping at a store that you have never been to. You don't necessarily have to buy
anything, just go in and look around.
5. Meet a friend you haven't seen for a long time.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Another simple activity to increase your creativity is to pay attention to your surroundings.
You may laugh and think that is absolutely ridiculous after all, you see the same things and
people everyday, and you probably even drive the same route to and from work, too. But
try to take a few moments and actually pay attention to your surroundings. See things the
way they are and not the way you think they are.
• Take a different route home from work. Discover shortcuts or new
• Sit on a park bench and people watch. Think of stories for each person or couple
that you see.
• Have you ever really paid attention to the people in your office? What about the person
that sits right across from you? Take five or ten minutes and take notice. Don't stare, but
pay attention. You just may find that other people can be quite the source of inspiration
Use Your Imagination
If you have a favorite poem or story that you loved as a kid, sit down and start writing that
story, but make the changes that you always thought should be there. What were Jack and
Jill really doing on their way up the hill? If they were fetching a pail of water, what was the
You don't have to re-invent the wheel, simply make the everyday your own.
Increasing your creativity starts in small, simple ways. Your life is filled with opportunities
for you to test your creative energies but it's up to you to take action!